If you’re craving dosa, but don’t live in a part of the world where you can get it easily, consider trying out this simple dosa batter recipe. This basic recipe allows for a lot of customization and changes so you can recreate your favorite dosa in no time at all.
What Is Dosa?
Dosa is type of pancake or crepe that is made out of fermented rice batter and black lentils. The pancakes are a staple food in most Southern Indian states, and are also extremely popular in countries such as Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Singapore.
Dosa is commonly eaten as a breakfast food, but may also be served as dinner, or as a snack. It may be filled with a variety of things such as chutney or Sambar (a vegetable stew) and it may be served alongside several vegetarian side dishes. Anyone taking a course in Indian cooking will probably encounter several dishes that accompany dosa. People who are learning to eat gluten free may also enjoy learning to cook dosa, because the pancakes are naturally gluten free, and are high in protein.
Simple Dosa Batter Recipe
This simple recipe for dosa can be used as soon as it has fermented and been thinned slightly. You can keep it in the refrigerator for a few weeks, or use it all right away. The key to dosas is that you can fill them or stuff them with such a wide variety of different things that the dosas themselves don’t have to be complicated. Other than a little salt, they contain no seasonings or flavorings. You can cook them up crispy, or soft, stuff them, top, them or fill them any way that you want; the basic recipe becomes a delivery system for the rest of the meal. The dosas themselves have plenty of flavor simply from the batter, and from being cooked in plenty of butter or ghee. Some people do like to flavor the batter itself, but most find it unnecessary to making a tasty and versatile dosa.
Keep in mind that the batter needs to be ground. To do this, you may want to invest in a wet grinder if you are making dosas on a regular basis. Some people feel that a food processor can also do the job, but it may not grind the batter to the correct consistency. If you try to use a food processor and your dosas are coming out slightly grainy in texture, it is because the ingredients have not been thoroughly ground. You can either try increasing the grinding time, pulsing the food processor until it smoothes out more, or you can invest in a wet grinder, which will produce a much smoother and more even batter.
- 1 cup whole, skinned black lentils
- 3 cups idli rice
- 4 cups water
- Heaping teaspoon of salt
- Soak the black lentils in one cup of water.
- Soak the idli rice in a separate bowl with three cups of water.
- Continue soaking for a minimum of three hours, or until the water has been absorbed.
- Place the soaked lentils in a wet grinder.
- Grind until it reaches a smooth consistency. You will need to add some water to achieve this; pour the water in very slowly, stopping once the lentils become a smooth paste; do not over water.
- Transfer the lentils to a bowl.
- Grind the rice adding a tablespoon or two of water just to get the wet grinder moving smoothly.
- Combine the two ingredients together with the salt in a large bowl.
- Cover the bowl lightly and set it in a warm place for about 6 to 8 hours to allow it to ferment.
- Refrigerate until ready to use.
Using the Dosa Batter
Keep in mind that your dosa batter may be prepared, but it isn’t quite ready to use even once it’s been fermented. It needs to be thinned and prepared in order to be made into the pancakes or crepes.
- Allow the dosa batter to warm up to room temperature. Cold dosa batter could result in pancakes that are too white in color, even after they have been cooked.
- Thin out the batter with a ratio of 1-1/2 cups of water to 4 cups of batter. You may need to adjust the quantity of water slightly depending upon the age of the dosa batter. The end result should be a very pourable batter that has a smooth, creamy consistency. It should not be watery, however, so add the water slowly a little at a time, stopping when the batter falls off your spoon smoothly.
- Grease a seasoned iron griddle little with ghee.
- Ladle on some batter and work it with the back of your ladle from the center outward to thin the pancake out slightly. Keep in mind that the thinner you make the batter on the griddle, the crispier your finished dosa will be.
- Drizzle some melted ghee around the edges of your griddle and sprinkle a few drops onto the dosa itself. If you notice that your dosa does not turn easily and sticks to your griddle, you either need to season it better, or you may want to add some more ghee both when you grease it and at this point.
- Check the edges of the dosa after about one minute. If the pan is sufficiently greased, the dosa will begin to lift away. Flip the dosa over.
- Cook the other side of the dosa for about 40 to 45 seconds and transfer to a plate. Keep the plate warm with a towel over it to prevent the dosas from drying out before you serve them.
Dosa Batter Recipe Variations
While the basic dosa batter recipe uses just the lentils and rice, it isn’t the only way that you can make it. Many people make dosa using a variation in the grains besides the idli rice. If you want to keep your dosas gluten free, but change their taste and consistency slightly, consider substituting all or a portion of the rice for one of these ingredients instead:
- Brown rice
- Cooked rice
- Mung beans (in place of the lentils)
You can also make non gluten free dosa by using one of these ingredients:
- Wheat flour
If your dosa batter happens to over ferment, which will produce very sour pancakes, adding some wheat flour to the batter will help improve both the taste and the texture. This is a good way of stretching the batter if you don’t happen to use it all in a timely way.
Some people also add fenugreek seeds or grated ginger to the batter before fermenting it as well. These will help to change the flavor of the finished dosa, and will affect how well it pairs with the various fillings.
Whether you’re new to Indian cooking and are interested in making some traditional foods, or you’ve just had a love of dosa that you have been unable to fulfill until now, making your own dosa batter is incredibly simple. You may find after you’ve used this dosa batter recipe a few times, that you want to sign up for a course in Indian vegetarian cooking so you can learn better how to pair, fill, top, or stuff the finished dosas so you can create a balanced and nutritious meal.
No matter whether you’re just taking your first cooking course or you’re an accomplished cook, having a simple recipe like this in your repertoire can always be a benefit. Whether you intend to serve up some dosas for your next family breakfast, or you just want to impress your friends at your next dinner party, whip up some dosa batter to accompany your fresh and healthy meal and enjoy a fast, easy, and delicious meal.